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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: August ::
Making King John a Play Worth Watching
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1392  Thursday, 25 August 2005

[1] 	From: 	Jack Heller <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 24 Aug 2005 08:41:28 -0500 (EST)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1365 Making King John a Play Worth Watching

[2] 	From: 	Larry Weiss <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 24 Aug 2005 12:54:02 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1378 King John

[3] 	From: 	Al Magary <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 24 Aug 2005 11:30:15 -0700
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1378 King John


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jack Heller <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 24 Aug 2005 08:41:28 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 16.1365 Making King John a Play Worth Watching
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1365 Making King John a Play Worth Watching

I don't quite understand people's reluctance about King John. The 
production about five years ago at the Alabama Festival could be added 
to those attesting to its stage merits. It has a number of memorable 
characters and situations-the Bastard Falconbridge, Hubert, King John 
himself, the death of Arthur, the capitulation to Pandulph, John's own 
poisoning. And it should be an important text to anyone studying 
Shakespeare and the religious politics of his day, with a version of 
John that contrasts to the proto-Protestant of Foxe and the Troublesome 
Raigne while not fully portraying the despot of earlier Catholic 
historiography.

Jack Heller

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 24 Aug 2005 12:54:02 -0400
Subject: 16.1378 King John
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1378 King John

Charles Weinstein, whose reviews are always welcome to me, says

 >I count King John as one of the BBC's more successful offerings

Odd, I thought it was the least well conceived and could compete 
successfully with the AYLI starring a clueless Helen Mirren for most 
uninteresting.  Even the execrable Shrew, which Jonathan Miller 
deliberately made drab, was better.

For me, whatever charm the production had was overwhelmed by Leonard 
Rossiter's lackluster John.  Perhaps he was out of his element, but I 
couldn't make up my mind whether John was sedated or just uninterested. 
  The contrast with Rossiter's brilliance in Reginald Perrin and Rising 
Damp made it all the more disappointing.  (By the way, does anyone know 
if DVDs of those series are available in NTSC?)

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Al Magary <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 24 Aug 2005 11:30:15 -0700
Subject: 16.1378 King John
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1378 King John

Charles Weinstein (obviously in a good mood) wrote.  "Al Magary has some 
unkind words for the BBC's King John; but the production has too many 
good performances to warrant such dismissal..."

I am happy to see a good defense and I pledge that one day I will give 
BBC's KJ another chance. I think it has become more difficult to watch 
standard televised stage performances from a couple decades ago because 
their production qualities are so dismal in comparison to today's 
movies.  Even low-budget filmmakers find interesting locations, move the 
camera(s) around, and do creative editing.  Audiences of course have 
different expectations when they see live theater, but it seems to me 
from 3,000 miles distance that the Lenox King John has been deliberately 
made visually and otherwise more appealing, and so would both please the 
people in the seats and make a better TV version.

"If I were king" I'd tell PBS or another American television outfit to 
hire some indie film people and produce a significant new set of 
Shakespeare on DVD based on the many regional theater productions I've 
been reading about this summer.  (Arrange a free Google News alert on 
"Shakespeare" to get a daily roundup from around the world.)

Cheers,
Al Magary

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